Americans rate knowledge about the quality of the teaching force as the most important piece of information when determining the strength of their local schools, according to a recent opinion poll conducted by the Public Education Network and Education Week.
Seventy-six percent of the 800 voters who participated in the telephone survey listed that knowledge as extremely or very important, closely followed by information on literacy rates and data on students’ access to books and other learning materials.
Less important to voters are information on school budgets, how their schools compare with others statewide, and data on school safety, although about two-thirds of the respondents still rated those factors as extremely or very important.
Education Week and PEN, a Washington- based network of local education funds, conducted the poll in January. Overall, the survey, which has a margin of error of 3 percentage points, suggests that high-quality education continues to be a high priority for voters. (“Poll: Public Sees Schools As a Priority,” April 24, 2002.)
At the same time, a little more than half the respondents said that data on the state of school facilities, reports on school performance from the PTA, state-by-state comparisons of graduation and college-attendance rates, and the percentage of students taking Advanced Placement and accelerated courses were also very important pieces of information to have when evaluating their local schools. Fewer than half said scores on standardized tests were as important.
The full report on the PEN/Education Week poll, “Accountability for All: What Voters Want From Education Candidates,” is available from the Public Education Network. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.)
A version of this article appeared in the June 19, 2002 edition of Education Week as Public Wants Data On Teacher Quality